I swear, we’re not crazy

I haven’t posted much on this blog since having a health scare in late April that affected my everyday schedule, particularly my schedule at work, for a while. Some things have returned to normal, but others will never be the same.

Most of my posts have been reposts of stories, photos, videos, etc. But basically little that I’ve written myself. This post is a break from that recent trend.

My son, Dylan, began his second year at a charter school this fall. He attended a different school in our district for 4K and 5K, but we made a change before first grade.

Dylan is ahead of his grade level, and my wife and I felt that the charter school offered flexibility that his regular public school couldn’t. Namely, the ability to work ahead to his level, rather than be held back with the class (A product of No Child Left Behind … rather no child gets ahead.).

Aside from a few hiccups here and there, which I’m sure most parents go through, the school has been wonderful and Dylan has thrived academically.

But socially, that hasn’t been the case.

Probably much like I was, Dylan has the misfortune of being far ahead intellectually of where he is socially or emotionally. And this has resulted in behavior issues.

Phone calls home have been common. Detention has been served. He’s made a few trips to the office.

None of the offenses were serious, but they were beginning to add up. No matter how well he was performing academically, we were having troubles behavior-wise.

My wife has long desired to be at home full-time and has long expressed the desire to homeschool our children. I was, and am not, as enthusiastic as her about the notion.

My sense of people that homeschool traditionally has been that they are those with the means (either wealthy or extremely intelligent) or crazy (send your donations in care of David Koresh, the messiah). I didn’t leave much room in between. Honestly, I still don’t.

For all of the drawbacks of public schools, and there are many, especially in the progressive (using sarcasm font here) state of South Carolina, one thing they provide that cannot be replaced by homeschooling, or private schools for that matter, is a trial run at life experience. Definitely, not all of the experience will be good, but there is a value to learning to deal with people unlike you — people who don’t think like you, look like you, believe like you, worship like you, behave like you … or like you. And in real life, that’s what you’re forced to do every day.

That being said, Dylan’s behavior was causing a problem, and in the latest incident (though we can’t really get anyone to tell us what, if anything happened), he was labeled a bully by a woman who works at the school.

Forget the fact that the chances of Dylan being a bully fall right behind Ghandi being a war-monger. The woman who made the accusation is someone who was involved in the founding of the school and will be there for the duration of Dylan’s time. Translation: Dylan will be branded a troublemaker, and that label will stick and he’ll have to deal with it as long as he’s there.

Despite good grades and amazing test scores, Dylan has been miserable at school lately, and Brooke is now at home full-time after leaving her job at a nonprofit. This time, when she brought up homeschooling, I didn’t fight.

I’ll admit, I’m not sure how I feel about it. And I don’t know if we did the right thing. But at least for a while, Dylan will be homeschooled. We’ve taken the plunge, and I’m up to my neck. I’ve no choice but to swim.

Brooke has taken or is in the process of taking all the legal steps, making sure we follow the rules or our state and district.

And Dylan had his first day of school at home Monday, spending time on spelling, vocabulary, reading comprehension, reviewing math skills … as well as his first taste of long division. And he got a tutorial on voting, with Tuesday being election day.

I don’t know if we’re doing the right thing. And I’m sure that I’m not sure what I’m doing. But at the same time, I won’t let him down. If I fail him, it won’t because I didn’t give my all.

I don’t think this is permanent. I foresee Dylan returning to public school at some point. My wife and I both are big supporters of public school (despite this move), and I think it’s important socially, as well. But I don’t know when. (I know I’m not teaching him chemistry!)

I’ve heard my wife tell people that we’ve prayed about this decision. Honestly, that usually means she’s prayed a lot more about it than me, but I’ve spent a lot of time going over the pros and cons again and again in my head.

Maybe some of this is our fault. Dylan’s never been to day care. He’s always been with one of us. He’s always gotten one-on-one attention. At school, he doesn’t.

Dylan’s a really smart, happy kid. But he’s got some growing to do to catch up with the kids his age. And until then, I think public school was going to be trouble for him.

Hopefully, we can work on some things at home that weren’t getting attention at school. And God willing, we’ll do more good than harm.

Because I don’t consider myself one of the crazies. And I hope when I look back on this decision down the line, I don’t see a crazy then, either.

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2 Responses to “I swear, we’re not crazy”

  1. mamalovemultipliedby4 Says:

    I just started homeschooling my son this year as well. He had been in public school up until that point. I too have dealt with the questions of “is this the right decision.” Not everyday has been a cakewalk by any stretch of the imagination but I know I am doing the right thing. Our son has adhd symptoms but has not been officially diagnosed. We took him out so he could be off medicine. Hang in there. It takes a while to allow yourself to believe that public school is not the only or best way for a great education. I know I am still fighting those same biases. But ultimately I know that at least for this year we made the right decision and who knows what next year will hold.

  2. I hope you are feeling better Mike. You are anything but crazy and shouldn’t blame yourself for the way things have turned out.

    I am a teacher, so obviously I favour school over home schooling, but I am even more interested in what is best for the child. There is no doubt that you and your wife are going out of your way to deliver the best outcome for your child. If only all parents dedicated the time and emotional investment that you are for your child.

    No teacher should EVER call a student a bully! When they do, it is not a reflection of the child but of an inability for them to understand the child and connect with them. The most important thing a child needs from their school is to be seen as a valued and cared about member of the school. Your child deserves nothing less than to be valued for who he is and constantly credited for his unique abilities.

    That is something he obviously wasn’t getting at school, but will surely get at home.

    Good luck! I hope it all works out.

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